Thailand

Thai parliament postpones session amid Red Shirt protests

Red Shirt protesters in front of a picture of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Red Shirt protesters in front of a picture of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. A.Dubus/RFI

Thailand's parliament postponed its session on Tuesday with MPs fearing for their safety because of continuing anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok. Supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have been collecting blood for the next move  in their campaign for fresh elections.

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The Thai parliament's speaker, Chai Chidchob, said the parliament postponed its Tuesday session because not enough MPs had turned up. More than half of the 625 senators and MPs must attend for a joint parliamentary session of the upper and lower houses to proceed, but only 100 were there.

Outside government buildings, tens of thousands of Red Shirt protesters, loyal to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, started collecting their own blood. They plan to spill it at the government's gates in a symbolic sacrifice on Tuesday afternoon.

The Red Shirts are protesting against the government, which came to power via a December 2008 parliamentary vote after a controversial Thai court ruling had ousted  Thaksin's allies. Thaksin himself was deposed in a coup in 2006 and lives in exile to avoid a jail term for corruption.

Meanwhile, incumbent Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has refused to step down and has instead invoked a strict security law under which 50,000 security personnel have been deployed in Bangkok and surrounding areas to control the protests.

Together with top ministers and the military he has been running a security operation from an army barracks in north Bangkok. The Red Shirts gathered there on Monday before returning to their rally site.

 

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